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: CIA Killings of American and British Rock


by Alex Constantine

Research assistance: The late Mae Brussell's "Operation CHAOS," an unpublished essay,
and film-maker Lew Lee.

Reports of appalling excesses committed by domestic intelligence operatives during the

Vietnam era have surfaced repeatedly in the public print since the evacuation of Saigon:
the FBI's COINTELPRO outrages, the probable involvement of military intelligence
officers in the murder of Martin Luther King,,, assaults on 1960s activism by the
CIA's CHAOS division, the distribution of LSD to subvert the anti-war movement, a
litany of Watergate "horrors" and various ill-conceived, federally-sanctioned undercover
operations. Some of this closet activity has only come to light decades later, including the
existence of a CIA-led "Sovereign Committee," an assemblage of prominent reactionaries
bent on turning back the civil rights movement in the South of the 1960s by decimating
the lives of its leading spokesmen.

Still eclipsed by federal classification are the tactics of the U.S. intelligence sector in the
destabilization of the lives of musicians and counter-cultural activists, as revealed in a
Senate Intelligence Committee report released on April 26, 1976:

"Show them as scurrilous and depraved. Call attention to their habits and living
conditions, explore every possible embarrassment. Send in women and sex, break up
marriages. Have members arrested on marijuana charges. Investigate personal conflicts or
animosities between them. Send articles to the newspapers showing their depravity. Use
narcotics and free sex to entrap. Use misinformation to confuse and disrupt. Get records
of their bank accounts. Obtain specimens of handwriting. Provoke target groups into
rivalries that MAY RESULT IN DEATH."

Killing was, without question, deemed a sound option by an intelligence sector embroiled
in suppressing the popular backlash to military-industrial authority. One covert operation
proposed by the President Nixon's Plumbers unit,, a CIA cadré, involved the bombing of
100,000 demonstrators at a rock concert in Mission Bay, San Diego during the 1972
Republican convention (an event subsequently moved to Miami, where the same White
House special operations unit planned to provoke a riot to be blamed on the Left, per
Harper's magazine for December 1972, until the whistle was blown by FBI informant and
Green Beret vet William Lemmer before a Florida grand jury).

The music industry of the Vietnam period was the binding force of a cultural revolution.
Music and the politics of the Left were one. "War," Mick Jagger reflected, "stems from
power mad politicians and patriots. Some new master plan would end all these mindless
men from seats of power." Mick Jagger's audience sang his revulsion, but their enmity
toward the warfare state was mutual.

The back channels of the intelligence world swarmed with crooks and killers. This genré
belched forth the late Robert Hall, associate of Robert Vesco and Howard Hughes, a
private investigator in L.A. summed up by former Harper's editor Jim Hougan: "tough,
reasonably brave and decidedly larcenous ... a father, a wiretapper, an informer, a dope
peddler and a double agent" (Spooks, William Morrow, 1878).

Hall tailed Sal Mineo one evening in 1975 ... the very night the actor was stabbed to
death. (Mineo's had signed on to play Sirhan Sirhan in a film about the murder of Robert
F. Kennedy - in it, CIA assassination and post-hypnotic programming were to be
prominently featured themes.)

Hall was retained by the managers of seven rock bands to investigate physicians who'd
slipped their musicians fraudulent prescriptions, drugs that altered their personalities,
sabotaged public appearances, hindered their lives and music.

Hall reported that two doctors and a dentist had prescribed the mind-altering drugs. This
information was turned over to the authorities. No action was taken. Hall was gunned
down shortly thereafter, on July 22, 1976. The homicide investigation turned up tapes
recorded by Robert Hall. Beverly Hills Police Chief Jack Eggars immediately resigned
due to his involvement with the drug dealer, as revealed in the tapes. The media,
observed the late political researcher Mae Brussell, linked the killing to "Hollywood's
most famous celebrities in drug and sex scandals, exposures of television starts and high
Washington officials, drug traffic from Los Angeles to the Malibu community,
international sports events, the Los Angeles police department (one of their former agents
is now retired, and heads the Police Science Department at L.A. Valley College and
supplied the fatal weapon used to kill Hall)."

Jack Ginsburgs, Hall's partner, was charged with the murder. Ginsburgs, according to
Hougan, was "a pornographer, the proprietor of XXX, Inc. The son of a White Russian
émigré, he'd spent his youth inside the decadent Shanghai Bund - that romantic foreign
colony which [was] a meld of opium, kinky sex and intrigue." Gene LeBell was also
charged. LeBell, another partner in Hall's firm, owned a pharmacy in Hollywood.

Between 1967 and 1976, many of the music industry's most politically active talents died,
among them Mama Cass Elliott, folk singers Richard Farina, Phil Ochs and Tim Buckley,
Jim and Pamela Morrison, Gram Parsons, Otis Redding, songwriter Jimmy Reed,
Clarence White of the Byrds, Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead's "Pig Pen," Jimi Hendrix,
Michael Jeffrey (Hendrix's manager), Keith Moon, others. Since, the deaths of John
Lennon and Bob Marley were succeeded by books exploring the possible involvement of
the CIA.

Operation Chaos (forthcoming), will examine evidence of complicity by the intelligence

"services" - recruiters of morally-erosive holdouts of fascist regimes and Mafia stinkbugs
- in the deaths of over a dozen musicians associated with the "New Left," among them:
Brian Jones: The coroner's report concluded, "death by misadventure" on July 2, 1969.
the Rolling Stone complained that police planted marijuana on him, and he compared his
handling by the law to the hounding of Lenny Bruce, recalling the tactics detailed in the
1976 Congressional Intelligence Committee report. Two books published in 1994, Paint
It Black by Geoffrey Guiliano and Terry Rawlings' Who Killed Christopher Robin?,
concluded that Jones had been murdered. England's Independent reported on April 4,
1994, "Murder Claims Raise Doubts Over Rolling Stone's Death." The 27-year-old
guitarist may have been "deliberately drowned in the swimming pool of his country
mansion by one of his aides, Frank Thorogood." The books cited above are in agreement
that before Jones drowned, Thorogood conned the musician out of thousands of pounds.
Was Thorogood a contract killer?

Keith Richards: "Some very weird things happened the night Brian died. We had these
chauffeurs working for us, and we tried to find out. Some of them had a weird hold over
Brian. I got straight into it and wanted to know who was there and couldn't find out. The
only cat I could ask was the one I think who got rid of everybody, and did a whole
disappearing thing so that when the cops arrived, it was just an accident."

Phil Ochs: Wrote songs condemning war. In 1974 he sang at Madison Square Garden
with Bob Dylan, the occasion: "An Evening with Salvadore Allendé." The death of Phil
Ochs was determined to be "death by hanging" in April, 1976. Two years before, he'd had
a bout of depression and bizarre behavior that left him with a multiple personality, a
psychological state much explored by the CIA's mind control community.

Richard Farina: Married Mimi Baez, sister of Joan Baez - to the national security state
born. Joan Baez wrote in her autobiography, And a Voice to Sing With (Signet, 1987),
that when she was a young girl, "most of the bright young Stanford scientists went off to
Los Alamos, New Mexico, where the atomic bomb was being developed. My father
recognized the potential destructive power of the unleashed atom even in those early
days. So he took a job as a research physicist at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York."
Cornell was the home base of the CIA's mind control experiments, and Joan Baez is a
self-described survivor of ritual child abuse, which employs a form of mind control,
trauma-based programming, a technique perfected by the CIA.

"Soon my father was invited to become Head of Operations Research at Cornell. Exactly
what the job entailed was classified information, but he was offered a three-week cruise
on an aircraft carrier as an introduction to the project and promised a huge salary. As it
turned out, he would be overseeing Project Portrex, a vast amphibious exercise which
among other things involved testing fighter jets, then a relatively new phenomenon.
Millions of dollars would be poured into the project, about which he was to know little
and say less." Farina, who had married into a CIA family, was killed in a motorcycle
crash. According to the sleeve of his last record, "Goldwater was about to win the
California primary and the skies were somewhat uneasy."

Jimi Hendrix: From the Sunday Telegraph, December 12, 1993: "The former girlfriend of
Jimi Hendrix, the rock guitarist, spoke for the first time yesterday about how she has
succeeded in reopening the investigation into his drug-related death 23 years ago.

"Kathy Etchingham has spent the past three years - almost as long as she was Hendrix's
live-in lover - investigating the circumstances surrounding the star's death. A 34-page
dossier she sent to Sir Nicholas Lyell, the attorney-general, has prompted Scotland Yard
to reopen the case and may lead to a new inquest. In it she pointed to alleged
inconsistencies in statements given by Monika Dannemann, a German blonde who was
Hendrix's girlfriend at the time of his death.... The police will examine whether there was
any delay in calling an ambulance for Hendrix....

"Etchingham, 46, now married and a mother of two, said: At the time of his death I didn't
doubt what I was told. But then I began reading the biographies and seeing interviews
and I could see gaping holes."

Mama Cass Elliott: Count in her entourage at the time of her death one Bill Mentzer,
since convicted for the murder of fledgling Hollywood producer Roy Radin. Mentzer was
convicted with an accomplice, Alex Marti, former leader of an Argentine death squad, to
life in prison. Cass had recently finished two weeks at the London Palladium. The
coroner's report was not conclusive. She "probably choked to death," but there was "a
possibility of heart attack."

Bob Marley: After the last performance of Bob Marley and the Wailers in America, at
Madison Square Garden, Marley took seriously ill. Three years before, in London, the
singer had injured a toe in a football match. The toe was found to be cancerous, and
Marley was treated in Miami, Florida with no success. By 1980, the growth had infected
his entire body. He struggled with the disease for eight months at the clinic of Dr. Joseph
Issels in Bavaria. Dr. Issels' brand of alternative medicine was non-toxic. For a brief time
Bob's condition appeared to stabilize. Eventually, however, the battle proved too much.
He died in a Miami hospital on Monday May 11, 1981. Excerpt of an interview with Lew
Lee, a documentary filmmaker (the Oscar-winning Panama Deception and All Power to
the People, an examination of the FBI's COINTELPRO excesses), conducted on October
30, 1997.

LEE: People came by his house. There were always people going in and out. Someone
gave Bob a pair of boots. He put his foot in and said "Ow!" A friend got in there - you
know how Jamaicans are. He said,"let's get in here" - in the boot, and he pulled a piece of
copper wire out. It was embedded in the boot.

A.C.: Do you believe it was radioactive?

LEE: I didn't think so at the time, but I've always had my suspicions because Marley later
broke his toe playing soccer, and when the bone wouldn't mend, the doctors found that
the toe had cancer. The cancer metastasized throughout his body, and he [Marley]
believed he could fight this thing. He wanted to do anything but to turn to Western
medicine. This may have been a mistake, maybe not. So they appointed for Bob - Chris
Blackwell, I guess, and a couple of other people - they found this doctor is Switzerland,
Dr. Issels, who said that he could cure Bob. And they cut Bob's dreadlocks off. And he
was getting all of this crazy, crazy medical treatment in Switzerland. I know this because
Ray Von Evans, who played in Marley's grounp, we were very close friends. As Bob was
receiveing these medical treatments, Ray would come by every two or three months -
1979-80 - and told me, "Yeah, mon,They're killing Bob. They are KILLING Bob." I said,
"What do you mean 'they are killing Bob?'" "No, no, mon," he said. "Dis Dr. Issels, he's a
Nazi!" We found out later that Dr. Issels WAS a Nazi doctor. And he had worked with
Dr. [Joseph] Mengele.

Mengele survived the war and enjoyed the protection and employment of the CIA. On
five occasions his death has been reported. Attempts to bring the facts to light have been
subverted by employees of the Agency. John Lennon: British barrister Fenton Bresler has
long maintained that the Beatle's murder was the result of CIA mind control
programming. In Who Killed John Lennon? (1989), Bresler observed: "What really got
the FBI and CIA so geared up about Lennon was [his plan] for a 'revolutionary road
show,' starring Lennon and Yoko. This combination of rock music and radical politics
was to barnstorm its way across America." Did a programmed killer abort the said
barnstorm? The FBI has long resisted all efforts by Jon Weiner, a professor at the
university of California, Irvine, to lay hands on Lennon's file, which remains top secret.

The mystery of Lennon's death - and unresolved circumstances in a score of others (the
theft and burning of Byrd guitarist Clarence White's corpse by a Manson Family member,
for one) - could well be dispelled by access to sealed files. The National Security Act of
1947, the CIA charter, does not grant national security thugs a license to kill.

Taken from

And look who shows up after Janis Joplin died:

Dr. Noguchi went to room #105 of the Landmark Motel to get a better understanding of
how Janis Joplin died. The police sealed off the room long before he arrived, and assured
him that (a) no unauthorized personnel had entered; and (b) after a thorough search, they
found a fix, but no drugs of any kind. The coroner went directly to a trashcan and
immediately pulled out a balloon filled with heroin.

Joplin allegedly died alone. The police insisted that they had searched that wastebasket at
least three times hoping to find something. But they didn’t. Noguchi grilled the
policeman standing guard. Eventually, the cop confessed that one of Joplin’s friends
came by after the police had sealed the room.

Someone from Joplin’s entourage might have taken the drug from her room, but why?
The autopsy would reveal that she died from a heroin overdose, so it wasn’t like her
friends could hide that fact. Worse yet, having Joplin’s heroin stash might constitute
incriminating evidence—contraband at that—had the police decided to search the rooms
of everyone she knew. Assuming the person who removed the drug away from the scene
did so because he himself needed to feed his own addiction, then you would have to
figure that he’s a pretty hardcore junkie since he’s taken it from a friend who has just
OD’d on it.

John Cooke’s explanation of finding the body might raise suspicion in regards to the
initially missing heroin. He said that he left the Landmark, with two others, saw Joplin’s
car in the driveway, and reckoned that she had just gotten in. He then went straight to the
desk to get the key to her room. If I expected a friend to have just come back to her hotel
room, I think I might try knocking on her door first. If she didn’t answer right away, then
I would go to the desk to get the key, or call hotel security.

Then again, if Cooke or anyone else took drugs out of Joplin’s room, one would have to
wonder why he brought them back. He’d be taking a huge risk walking into a room
crawling with cops. He’d be taking an even bigger chance taking the balloon out of his
pocket to put in the garbage can, which the police would, most likely, search. They could
tie him to the illegal drugs, if nothing else.

One would also have to ask why the police would allow a civilian into a potential
homicide scene (after all, the police were investigating because they weren’t sure how
Joplin died at that point). Would they allow him to contaminate or remove evidence? Or
in this case, plant evidence?

Reading accounts of Dr. Noguchi’s service to Los Angeles County, and his dedication to
seeking and telling the truth, even at the peril of his career, would impress just about
anyone of the man’s honesty. Yet, he only “knows” that a musician friend of Joplin’s
came in because a police officer told him. No follow up questioning was ever mentioned
of this supposed musician friend.
So we could speculate (and I stress this is speculation) that the officer at the scene
initially told Noguchi the truth, but then realized that if only other law enforcement
officers were in the room, then they must have planted the balloon. So, he told Noguchi
something that would satisfy the good doctor’s curiosity, and at the same time not spill
the beans about a misdeed by one of his peers. Even if a “musician friend” did enter the
death scene, we have no explanation of where he went. For all we know, someone could
have peeked his head in the door wanting to talk to the cops, only to be told to wait
outside. And even if this anonymous person were in the room, no one could say he
planted anything.

Whatever happened to make that heroin disappear and then reappear, the anonymous
“musician friend” whom nobody checks out further sounds a little like the “invisible
man” from off the street that little kids blame broken lamps on. For if the officer could
not blame the irregularity on a hippie, then he or a fellow cop must have planted the
heroin—-unless, the balloon had legs and crawled into the wastebasket all by itself, or
Scotty beamed in there from the Enterprise.

Furthermore, since there is no way to establish whether the balloon represented Joplin’s
actual stash, we don’t know for sure if this 50% heroin was the actual stuff she took
because of a disruption in the chain of the custody of evidence. A toxicology report
showed that she had lethal levels of the drug in her body, but did not establish the purity
of the heroin she ingested.

Dr. Noguchi found, however, that Joplin was legally drunk at the time of her death, so
Joplin would not have necessarily needed a hot shot to do her in because of how alcohol
interacts with heroin. And speculation and irregularities aside, there is not sufficient
evidence to establish either murder or suicide occurred here. So, more than likely the
official version of Joplin’s death is the correct one.

Yet, if she were murdered, the question would be by whom, and for what purpose.

The previous month, Joplin performed at a Berlin concert with Jimi Hendrix and the band
Canned Heat. Canned Heat left the US for Berlin the previous day after a frantic and
unsuccessful search to locate their leader and founder Alan Wilson (left), who, like
Hendrix, was a friend of Joplin’s. Skip Taylor, the band’s manager, told them that he
would find Wilson and send him on a later flight. But when the group arrived at their
hotel in Berlin they received word that Wilson had been found dead in an open field that
fellow band member Bob Hite had already searched before taking off. Fifteen days later,
Hendrix died.

The suspicions about Joplin’s death have more to do with timing than anything else.
After all, within the span of thirty-one days, three major rock stars had died. Famed
conspiracy theorist Mae Brussell took note of the high number of rock star fatalities and
near-fatalities and began to suspect that a number of US intelligence agencies were
responsible for them. Later, Alex Constantine hypothesized that US Intelligence had
indeed conducted a covert war against rock and roll.
While those suspicions might sound like far-fetched paranoid delusions, they had a basis
in documented reality. During the 1960s, at least one faction of government, namely the
Federal Bureau of Investigation, conducted illegal operations against various people and
organizations in order to destroy what it termed “the new left.” As the Church Committee
would prove, the FBI received assistance from the CIA, NSA and Army Intelligence for
these efforts. Even more chilling, a proposal brought to the desk of President Richard
Nixon gave considerable credence to the possibility that someone actively sought to kill
rock and roll by killing its standard bearers.